ArtSEA: Organizations in Seattle are learning the art of rebounding

I was thinking about Station 11 this week, especially the artistic resilience of the characters, as I read the results of art fundis newly released COVID Cultural Impact Study, which surveyed some 200 arts and cultural organizations in the state.

The short version: the impact was powerful and not good. In the first year of the pandemic alone, responding organizations reported a $95.9 million loss in total revenue — and that’s after taking into account approximately $35.7 million in contributed revenue through pandemic financing, private donations, and grants. Cultural organizations said a full recovery could take years (even without the wildcard of possible future variants) and meanwhile aid dollars are starting to dry up.

“The industry has actively supported our communities by providing healthy outlets to cope with the trauma, isolation and loss that so many of us have experienced during the crisis,” the study authors wrote in the findings, highlighting innovation and steadfastness of the sector in the face of discouraging opportunities. “We are in a moment of crisis. At the same time, we find ourselves in a moment of opportunity. The cultural sector will play a vital role in the recovery of the community (economically and socially), and there is a role for all of us to support the sector.”

Some argue that art recovery will involve NFT technology – and the potential revenue it can generate for artists. (If you’re still baffled by what NFTs are, the pros, cons, and controversies, check out Crosscut reporter Margo Vansynghel’s NFT primer.) Last week, Margo attended a preview of the Seattle NFT Museum in Belltown (opening January 27), where she noticed that the first thing a visitor encounters is the gift shop. So before entering the main exhibit areas, you can buy a museum-branded T-shirt, water bottle, tote bag or teddy bear — but for this, she added, you’ll have to pay in good old US dollars, rather than cryptocurrency.

Building a physical museum for a phenomenon based entirely on the Internet (even if it looks like a retail space for high-definition TVs) may seem alienating. But the website says the physical venue is “designed to bring together artists, creators, collectors and the wider blockchain community.” Whether you’re all in with NFTs or just curious, the inaugural exhibit features a dreamy pastel dinner video piece by a local artist Neon Saltwater, as well as some vintage black and white photos from a Seattle concert photographer Charles Peterson, in which Kurt Cobain and Chris Cornell rock out from long ago stages in this new world.

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